Beware of small sample size with Swisher

Nick Swisher had a very difficult ALCS. In six games he went 3-for-20 with three walks. He struck out seven times, didn’t have an extra-base hit, didn’t drive in a run. This is the definition of a miserable performance. However, extrapolate at your own risk. Reggie Jackson, Mr. October himself, went 2-for-16 in the 1977 ALCS, just days before he personally bombed the Dodgers to death in the World Series. As I’ve been saying all along, this stuff happens. But don’t take my word for it. Here are just a few other examples:

  • Babe Ruth, 1922 World Series: 2-for-17 (.118), no home runs, one RBI.
  • Tony Lazzeri, 1926 World Series: 5-for-26 (.192), no home runs, three RBI.
  • Bob Meusel, 1927 World Series: 2-for-17 (.118), no home runs, one RBI.
  • Joe Gordon, 1939 World Series: 2-for-14 (.143), no home runs, one RBI.
  • Bill Dickey, 1941 World Series: 3-for-18 (.167), no home runs, one RBI.
  • Phil Rizzuto, 1941 World Series: 2-for-18 (.111), no home runs, no RBI.
  • Joe DiMaggio, 1949 World Series: 2-for-18 (.111), one home run, two RBI.
  • Mickey Mantle, 1962 World Series: 3-for-25 (.120), no home runs, no RBI.
  • Willie Randolph, 1976 World Series: 1-for-14 (.071), no home runs, no RBI.
  • Dave Winfield, 1981 World Series: 1-for-22 (.045), no home runs, one RBI.
  • Paul O’Neill, 1996 World Series: 2-for-12 (.167), no home runs, no RBI.
  • Derek Jeter, 2001 World Series: 4-for-27 (.148), one home run, one RBI.

That’s a dozen examples, and all, with the exception of Winfield, picked at random from the long list of Yankees greats. There are eight Hall of Famers on the list, plus Jeter, who is going in as long as he doesn’t rob any banks between now and 2020 or so. For some of them, the series listed above represented their only poor postseason; for others, I had several choices. Swisher hit very badly in the series just ended. There is no way around that. It changes nothing about the valuable season that he had or other series that he might play in the future.

We could also throw a Jorge Posada series or two onto the list above; in 23 World Series games, he’s a .208/.337/.338 hitter. He’s also had some very good postseason series. For example, he drove in six runs against the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS. These are very small segments of performance we’re talking about, and they don’t have much in the way of predictive power. As the Jackson and Jeter examples above show, they can call you Mr. October or even Mr. November, but, in the words of Casey Stengel, sometimes it doesn’t always work.


  1. buzah

    Yup, and life begins again on opening day of the series. Swish and Tex and others can still come up huge, but they better do it early, cause we’re ending this in 5 – tops.


    The fact that you can compare Nick Swisher favorably to Bobby Abreu makes me question your ability to competently evaluate major league talent. I don’t know what you’re looking at when it comes to evaluating Swisher. Clearly something is amiss here. Oh, and by the way, Melky Cabrera did pretty well against those Angels lefties you were so concerned about. I’ll be seeing you.


    Well as for Bobby Areu Mr. closedendman? I didn’t see him light the stage on fire during the ALCS either.

    Goldman is right about Swish. One or two bad post season series does not give one to any conclusion about a player. I can say one thing….Swisher’s failures certainly weren’t for a lack of trying. Maybe just the opposite….he was trying too hard. I don’t think ANYONE on the Yankees or ANY post season team doesn’t go up there to give it their best. Hell…Who doesn’t want to be a hero?? But sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

    Swisher was invaluable to the Yankees this year. He had a GREAT on base percentage…..lots of home runs…and even more, he brought a new and relaxed feel to the Yankee clubhouse. Like him or not, Nick Swisher IS part of the reason the Yankees are in the World Series. Personally? I love him!! Rock on Nick!! You just relax a little at the plate and it’ll happen.

  4. chriscsg

    Nice blog. People need to calm down about Swish. The stats in the blog show that even Hall of Fame players have bad post season series. And as we all know, Swish ain’t no Hall of Famer. He’s our #8 hitter for goodness sake. He almost always gives a professional at-bat with the potential for going yard at any time. He’s a big reason for us making the post season not to mention keeping the bleacher creatures entertained. We don’t need Swish to hit .400 w/4 home runs to win the series. We just need him to be Swish.


    The Yankees haven’t had a player like this in a long time – he’s like the artist I hate, but has some good songs. From a personality standpoint, he can’t further from Jeter-Tino-O’Neill. He’s bungled some plays in the outfield and it seems his head isn’t in the game like it should be. And not in a Bernie way, where it was endearing. In short, he’s a friggin head case. For me it makes him hard to like because I don’t know who’s going to show up (plus, those carzy eyes!). In this way, I must compare Abreu favorably, especially since he seems to have lost his fear of anything resembling an outfield fence. Anyway, Swisher has had some good moments, and he had a very good year. I can see why Steve likes him, but I don’t quite see why he likes him so much. He bugs me. Anyway, enough of this – I’m waiting for the Yankees-Phillies match up column. It should be interesting as the Phils may have an edge position by position, but maybe not overall. Mr. G., keep doing what you do. Can’t wait for the next one; hope you’re better and not doubled over in the fetal!


    Swishy gonna like Citizens Bank Park. And he’ll have CC protecting him at the bottom of the lineup Game 4!


    I like Swisher and always hope he does well, since he plays for my team. There are a couple of flaws in your argument about sample size. First, Swisher has had over 50 postseason at bats, and he’s not close to hitting even .250; He’s actually closer to the Mendoza line. What i said could be rebuff by saying, that any great player can have a stretch of 50 at bats where he doesn’t hit much(e.g. A-Rod or Bond). I’ll counter this counterattack by pointing out a second flaw in your argument. The fact is that, most of those players listed above are hall of fame players and some even transcendental(Ruth, Mantle, DiMaggio). Babe Ruth hit 3 home runs twice in the World Series, among all of his other achievements. We all know how good DiMaggio was, and Mantle won a triple crown. Reggie Jackson actually won a World Series MVP before he came to the Yankees. To make a long point short, Swisher has never demonstrated those type of capabilities. You give most the guys you stated the benefit of the doubt, just because you know how immense their talent was. With Swisher, he did hit .250 this year, and in the playoffs he’s facing better pitching, hence you can’t fault someone if they say that they don’t think Swisher will hit in the postseason. Personally, I’m hopping he kills the cover off the ball, but i can’t say I’m expecting it like i would with Rodriguez who was bound to hit a hot streak in the playoffs.


    Very well stated steevec. I still don’t get all this love for Swisher. He’s done some nice things this year, but not all that many. Also comparing him favorably to Bobby Abreu before the series with the Angels started was way over the top. Swisher couldn’t touch Abreu in his prime and even in the twilight of his career Abreu is still the superior player. Swigher.walks, so does Abreu. Abreu has always been a far superior hitter, better base runner and is no worse than equal to Swisher in the field. He has more speed as well. It’s not even close.

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